Pulp [#591]

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Pulp [#591]

Cameron: A few months ago I watched Lovecraft: The Fear of the Unknown, a documentary about one of my favourite authors, and the first thing I did while watching was make a list of everyone who appeared so I could check out their work. This was probably the best decision I ever made because it led me to check out Caitlin R. Kiernan and her novel The Red Tree.
To explain too much of the plot is to ruin a good portion of the book so I’ll keep it brief. After going through an incredibly difficult time in her life, author Sarah Crowe decides to leave the loud city of Atlanta behind and rent a much quieter cabin in the woods. At first everything goes to plan – the cabin is beautiful, Sarah can drink heavily without people passing judgment, and she can finally try and break through this writer’s block. Of course if everything stayed perfect it’d make for a dull novel. In a nearby field lies the titular tree, the centre of much folklore and mystery, and by all accounts is incredibly haunted. Though in a Henry James-like fashion it is entirely possible that the only thing haunting Sarah Crowe is Sarah Crowe.
The novel itself takes the form of a diary, ostensibly found by Sarah’s editor after her death, and while many entries serve only to account for the days’ banal activities, this terrible wooden behemoth creeps further and further into the narrative. People looking for action will be disappointed, but those who enjoy a slow burn ghost story in the style of Shirley Jackson or Laird Barron (minus the cosmic terror) will find The Red Tree to be exactly their kind of book.
Alastair: As you might have heard, DC is making a few changes to their titles. Gail Simone is off Batgirl, Brian Azzarello is finishing up on his excellent Wonder Woman run and Scott Lobdell is (rather controversially) back writing Red Hood and the Outlaws. Most controversially, however, DC decided to fake Dick Grayson’s death at the end of their annoyingly long Forever Evil arc. Yup, the vast majority of the DC heroes (sans Batman, naturally) think he’s dead. Nightwing is no more, replaced by the new series Grayson, written by Tim Seeley (Revival, Batman Eternal) and former counterterrorism officer Tom King.
Despite my distaste for DC’s editorial decisions, I figured I’d give Grayson a shot – Nightwing is easily one of my favourite characters in the DC universe, and the end of the Nightwing series left me wanting more. Grayson strikes me as being DC’s answer to Black Widow and Winter Soldier. While DC has everything from space cops to magical conmen, they haven’t really had any high-profile titles that could match the ultra-secretive espionage tales that Marvel is able to produce with their books.
It’s pretty hard to give a definitive judgement based on just one issue but it seems to me that Grayson is still very much developing. While issue #1 works well as an introduction to Dick’s new job as an agent of Spyral (last seen in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated), it doesn’t paint a full picture of just why he’s content with playing dead. Hopefully as the series progresses we’ll find out exactly what is going on, but considering we’re talking about an espionage series that probably won’t happen until at least issue #20!
As Grayson is still developing, I’m expecting things to change up as time goes on. That said, the series is off to an interesting start. If you’re into Black Widow, it’s worth a look.
Written by Cameron Urquhart and Alastair McGibbon